« AnteriorContinuar »
who was ninety-two at her death, after seventy years' cohabitation. Nicholas de Boutheiller, parish-preacher of Sasseville, being a bachelor, held out to one hundred and sixteen. Dame Claud de Massy, relict of Monsieur Peter de Monceaux, Grand Audiencer of France, died on the seventh, aged one hundred and seven. Letters of the seyenteenth say, Monsieur Chrestian de Lamoignon died on the seventh instant, a person of great piety and virtue; but having died young, his age is concealed for reasons of state. On the fifteenth, his Most Christian Majesty, attended by the Dauphin, the Duke of Burgundy, the Duke and Duchess of Berry, assisted at the procession which he yearly performs in memory of a vow made by Lewis the Thirteenth, in 1638. For which act of piety his majesty received absolution of his confessor, for the breach of all inconvenient vows made by himself. I am, Sir, your most humble servant,
“ HUMPHREY KIDNEY."
FROM MY OWN APARTMENT, AUGUST 17 I am to acknowledge several letters which I have lately received; among others, one subscribed Philanthropos, another Emilia, both which shall be honoured. I have a third from an officer in the army, wherein he desires I would do justice to the many gallant actions which have been done by men of private characters, or officers of lower stations, during this long war; that their families may have the pleasure of seeing we lived in an age, wherein men of all orders had their proper share in fame and glory. There is nothing I should undertake with greater pleasure than matters of this kind; if therefore they, who are acquainted with such
facts, would please to communicate them, by letter directed to me at Mr. Morphew's, no pains should be spared to put them in a proper and distinguishing light.
This is to admonish Stentor, that it was not admiration of his voice, but my publication of it, which has lately increased the number of his hearers.
No. 57. SATURDAY, AUGUST 20, 1709.
Quicquid agunt homines
- nostri est farrago libelli.
JUV. SAT. i. 85, 86.
Whatever good is done, whatever ill-
WILL'S COFFEE-HOUSE, AUGUST 19. I was this evening representing a complaint sent me out of the country from Emilia. She
her neighbours there have so little sense of what a refined lady of the town is, that she, who was a celebrated wit in London, is in that dull part of the world in so little esteem, that they call her in their base style a tongue-pad. Old Truepenny bid me advise her to keep her wit till she comes to town again, and admonish her, that both wit and breeding are local; for a fine court lady is as awkward among country housewives, as one of them would
appear in a drawing-room. It is therefore the most useful knowledge one can attain at, to understand among what sort of men we make the best figure; for if there be a place where the beauteous and accomplished Emilia is unacceptable, it is certainly a vain endeavour to attempt pleasing in all conversations.
Here is Will Ubi, who is so thirsty after the reputation of a companion, that his company is for anybody that will accept of it; and for want of knowing whom to choose for himself, is never chosen by others. There is a certain chastity of behaviour which makes a man desirable ; and which if he transgresses, his wit will have the same fate with Delia's beauty, which no one regards, because all know it is within their power. The best course Emilia can take is, to have less humility; for if she could have as good an opinion of herself for having every quality, as some of her neighbours have of themselves with one, she would inspire even them with a sense of her merit, and make that carriage, which is now the subject of their derision, the sole object of their imitation. Till she has arrived at this value of herself she must be contented with the fate of that uncommon creature, a woman too humble.
WHITE'S CHOCOLATE-HOUSE, AUGUST 19. Since my last, I have received a letter from Tom Trump, to desire that I would do the fraternity of gamesters the justice to own, that there are notorious sharpers, who are not of their class. Among others he presented me with the picture of Harry Coppersmith, in little, who, he says, is at this day worth half a plum,* by means much more indirect
* A plum is a term in the city for £100,000.
than by false dice. I must confess, there appeared some reason in what he asserted; and he met me since, and accosted me in the following manner :
It is wonderful to me, Mr. Bickerstaff, that you can pretend to be a man of penetration, and fall upon us Knights of the Industry as the wickedest of mortals, when there are so many who live in the constant practice of baser methods unobserved. You cannot, though you know the story of myself and the North Briton, but allow I am an honester man than Will Coppersmith, for all his great credit among the Lombards. I get my money by men's follies, and he gets his by their distresses. The declining merchant communicates his griefs to him, and he augments them by extortion. If, therefore, regard is to be had to the merit of the persons we injure, who is the more blamable, he that oppresses an unhappy man, or he that cheats a foolish one? All mankind are indifferently liable to adverse strokes of fortune; and he who adds to them, when he might relieve them, is certainly a worse subject, than he who unburdens a man whose prosperity is unwieldy to him. Besides all which, he that borrows of Coppersmith does it out of necessity; he that plays with me does it out of choice.'
I allowed Trump there are men as bad as himself, which is the height of his pretensions : and must confess that Coppersmith is the most wicked and impudent of all sharpers: a creature that cheats with credit, and is a robber in the habit of a friend. The contemplation of this worthy person made me reflect on the wonderful successes I have observed men of the meanest capacities meet with in the world, and recollect an observation I once heard a sage man make; which was "That he had observed that in some professions, the lower the understand
ing, the greater the capacity.' I remember he instanced that of a banker, and said, that “the fewer appetites, passions, and ideas a man had, he was the better for his business.'
There is little Sir Tristram, without connection in his speech, or so much as common sense, has arrived by his own natural parts at one of the greatest estates among us. But honest Sir Tristram knows himself to be but a repository for cash: he is just such an utensil as his iron chest, and may rather be said to hold money, than possess it. There is nothing so pleasant as to be in the conversation of these wealthy proficients. I had lately the honour to drink half a pint with Sir Tristram, Harry Coppersmith, and Giles Twoshoes. gave one another credit in discourse, according to their purses; they jest by the pound, and make answers as they honour bills. Without vanity, I thought myself the prettiest fellow of the company; but I had no manner of power over one muscle in their faces, though they smirked at every word spoken by each other. Sir Tristram called for a pipe of tobacco; and telling us tobacco was a pot-herb, bid the drawer bring him the other half pint. Twoshoes laughed at the knight's wit, without moderation ; I took the liberty to say, it was but a pun.' A
pun !' says Coppersmith ; you would be a better man by ten thousand pounds if you
pun like Sir Tristram. With that they all burst out together. The queer curs maintained this style of dialogue till we had drunk our quarts a-piece by half-pints. All I could bring away with me is, that Twoshoes is not worth twenty thousand pounds : for his mirth, though he was as insipid as either of the others, had no more effect upon the company than if he had been a bankrupt.